Simancas: June 1581, 1-15

Pages 119-134

Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 3, 1580-1586. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1896.

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June 1581, 1-15

2 June. 96. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
The changes in the marriage negotiations have been so sudden and frequent on both sides that I have not ventured to give an account of them to your Majesty, but have waited until something was settled. (fn. 1) Although it has appeared several times that this was so, things have always changed the next day, and I am consequently obliged to report events as they have happened since the departure of M. de Vray, which I advised on the 12th ultimo The Queen heard from her ambassador Cobham that the king of France would not listen to the idea of an offensive and defensive alliance if the marriage were not effected, and this caused the English Commissioners to move, before Vray's return, the abrogation of one of the clauses already agreed upon, namely that Alençon and his servants might publicly exercise the catholic religion. They said that, in view of the condition of things here, although the Queen had previously conceded this clause, it was not advisable now that it should be accepted or that, either publicly or privately, Alençon or any member of his household should exercise his religion after the marriage ; as they (i.e. the Council) did not wish to have any difference of religion in the country.
This appeared to the French Commissioners to be a great innovation, which the king of France and his mother ought, on no account, to allow ; even though Alençon were to accept it. They therefore replied that the matter was already agreed to, and Lansac, la Mothe Fenelon, and Pinart, sent to ask Leicester to confer with them about it, and persuade the Queen not to alter the clause, and to agree to the marriage. He excused himself from seeing them, but sent to say that when the Queen decided to marry he should be pleased, but he would not persuade her to do so on any account.
At this juncture Vray arrived with letters from Alençon, saying that, for his part, he would do whatever the Queen wished, but that his brother would not break with your Majesty, nor with any other Prince ; saying that Alençon after his marriage could do as he liked. In view of the proclamation issued by the King on the 17th ultimo, (fn. 2) and the offer made to Alençon by the Queen-mother also, the French were of opinion that they ought to depart at once as the marriage could not now be effected. The French ambassador came to see me at a very unusual hour and, from what I could infer from his conversation, it was the wish of the envoys that he should come and assure me that the English were only aiming at inducing the King to break with your Majesty. He expressed himself as very indignant at the way in which they were treated, and I took care to increase this feeling, cautiously ; replying to the rest of his discourse in general terms. I thus deepened the suspicion that the secret negotiations of the Queen with Alençon might result in her providing him with means from here for gaining over a port (in France) to his interest, through which the English might help him, if necessary. After the reception of the despatch, the Commissioners saw the Queen respecting their departure, and decided on the 27th ultimo in a conference with the English that it would be advisable, in order to guard Alençon's honour, to agree upon the negotiations. This the Englishmen consented to, and the Queen was to write a letter saying that when they thought well to marry, these articles should be the ones adopted, but that at present it was not desirable to effect the marriage, pending the discussion in Parliament of the question of the coronation and the alimony to be given to the consort in case of the Queen's death. The French made great efforts to prevent this letter from being written, whilst the Queen, herself kept delaying their departure. In view of this they said they wished to know why she refused to sign the capitulations, as, if the reason was that they had not sufficient authority to accept them on behalf of the King, they would be glad to be told so.
At this time the Queen received secret intelligence from Alençon respecting the anger of his mother when she left him, upon his telling her that he would not fail to relieve Cambrai in person, in accordance with the promise he had made to this Queen ; and that, although he had asked all the nobles of France to help him to that effect, the King had prevented them from doing so. (fn. 3) Upon the receipt of this, the Queen told the envoys that Alençon and she were the persons who were to be married and they understood each other very well, so that there was no need for the signing of capitulations, nor for their acceptance by the King. It is to be believed that she took up this position in the certainty that Alençon was coming hither. He embarked at Dieppe on the 28th ultimo at six in the morning, telling the Governor of the town not to inform his brother or his mother until after he had sailed, as he was going to visit this Queen. Contrary weather, however, drove him back to land and he left the town, although other people say that he did not disembark there, but in another port between Dieppe and Boulogne. All are agreed that after he landed he started with a crowd of horsemen, from whom, after a short time, he separated with only eight attendants, without its being known whether he travelled to Boulogne or Dieppe. Although some people assert positively that he has arrived here, I believe that this is not the case, but that the Queen is expecting him and that, at this moment, he may have landed on the coast. The Queen certainly is satisfied that he is coming, and has dispatched Marchaumont and de Vray to meet him. This step has taken the King's Commissioners here by surprise, as, indeed, it has the English also. When Leicester and Walsingham told the Commissioners that an English merchant had seen Alençon embark at Dieppe they were much perturbed, and the certainty of his coming has caused great sorrow in the country. I will give an account of his arrival to your Majesty with all speed.—London, 2nd June 1581.
97. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
In conformity with the orders contained in your Majesty's despatch of the 24th April, received 31st ultimo, I have already advised with regard to Ireland that the Viceroy was negotiating with some of the insurgents, but he could not prevail upon them to submit on his promises alone. The Queen therefore sent the pardon which I mentioned in my former letters, but it has not been taken advantage of by any of those who are in arms. O'Neil had postponed his interview with the Viceroy, but when the day arrived he did not attend, but marched eight leagues inland to avoid him. The Viceroy was constructing a fort to prevent the raids which Avere made upon the English territory by the people of Baron Grangas (Clancar or Baltinglass ?), and the insurgents had slaughtered two companies of Irishmen who were on the side of the Queen, and with them some Englishmen who were engaged in building the fort. I have no communication with the insurgents, as I am without instructions from your Majesty, (fn. 4) and it would be very difficult for me to get into negotiation with them, but I understand from the news received by the Queen, and the English who are well informed on these matters, that although the principal people are mostly in arms they are not making so much progress as they might, in consequence of their want of harmony ; the principal chiefs, namely O'Neil, Desmond, and Baron Clancar (?) remaining each in his own territory, concerned principally in preserving themselves from falling into the hands of this Queen and losing their lives. The result of this is that their forces are of little service, disunited as they are, and unable to withstand separately the attacks of the English. For this reason the Queen is temporising, and delaying the dispatch of the large force which the Viceroy requests, fearing that the arrival of such a force would cause the Irish to unite, which might give her much more trouble than at present, when they are divided ; and, in the meanwhile, she is gaining time and trying what can be done by promises and favours. In the interim too, she will watch whether his Holiness sends them fresh aid, in order to regulate her forces in conformity therewith. This is the present position ; but little dependance can be placed on the people of the island by reason of their inconstancy and fickleness, which has been proved frequently by their repeated submission and agreement with the Queen and her predecessors, at times when they had least cause for it. For this reason it would be well, if his Holiness helps them again, that it should be in such force as to compel the Irish to co-operate with him, and that the chiefs should be thoroughly informed as to the reason of the war, as otherwise no aid sent thither will be of much use, and the Irish will probably act as they have done in the past.
The Scotch proclamation which I sent to your Majesty was actually issued last year, at the time that Morton was paramount, but in order to make people here believe that it was issued this year they had it printed here, with the object I mentioned before, because here they reckon the beginning of the year from the 25th March, thus giving the impression that the proclamation was dated this year. The trick was seen through by Catholics at once, and they made known the fact that in Scotland the year began on the 1st January. As this opened people's eyes, the English had the proclamation again printed under date of 1581, inserting therein the clauses passed in 1566 in the time of the Regent James, (fn. 5) respecting religion. This heretical poison is so pestilential and artfully concocted that I have not dared to send it to your Majesty.
In addition to the plot divulged by Whittinghame, the latter has also declared that his brother Douglas, in order to overthrow d'Aubigny and arouse the indignation of the Scots against him, forged a letter in his name to the bishop of Glasgow, the queen of Scotland's ambassador in France, telling him to beg his Holiness to give a license to him (d'Aubigny) to pretend to be a heretic in order to take the opportunity of secretly doing what service he might to the Catholic faith in Scotland. This letter, he said, had been sent in a way which would insure its falling into the hands of the Ambassador Cobham in France as if it had been intercepted, as Cobham believed it had been, and instantly sent it to this Queen, who forwarded it to Morton's friends in Scotland. The fraud having been divulged, however, has increased d'Aubigny's credit and justified him before his enemies.
The Queen is informed that the Scots were hastily fortifying Leith, the port where the French were in the year /62, and notwithstanding that the English had withdrawn all their troops from the Border, the Scots had left 600 picked men there. She also has letters from the king of Scotland complaining that she had not allowed the ambassador John Seton, whom he sent, to pass. The King says that as he received her ambassadors, even after he knew the bad objects with which they came, he was astonished that she should repulse his. This was really an artifice of the English to prevent the Scots' envoy coming hither whilst the French Commissioners were here.
This Queen sent Master Harrington to Scotland with a message to the King, to the effect that she would receive his ambassadors, but that the person he had sent was a pensioner of your Majesty, and consequently was not pleasing to her. This mission is only a pretext to allow of an effort being made with Lord Argyll, Chancellor of Scotland, to prevent the condemnation of Morton at Dumbarton, and to have him brought to Edinburgh. The King received this Queen's envoy extremely well. Lord Seton, who is the father of John Seton, has been made admiral of Scotland, and this has caused some suprise here, seeing the slight they put upon his son at Berwick. Although the Chancellor has always been a deadly enemy to Morton, the Queen's envoy bought him over by gifts and promises, so that, when they brought for his signature the patent for the twelve men who, according to the law of the country, were to sentence Morton at Dumbarton, he refused to sign it as was agreed. It was brought to him by Sir James Douglas, (fn. 6) guardian of Lord Arran, the eldest brother of the Hamiltons, and Morton's most persistent persecutor, and when he found the Chancellor would not sign it, he told him that if he had as many teats as horns he would make a better cow than a Chancellor, which remark they say is very appropriate to the person of Argyll. As the patent was not signed Morton was ordered to be brought from Dumbarton to Edinburgh, where he arrived on the 27th ultimo, and at the same time 158 burgesses, who were understood to be in his favour, were ordered to go out of the town, leaving their wives, children, and property. It is understood that Morton will be condemned, but these people are convinced that the King will grant him his life and imprison him in the castle of Dumbarton, even though he may be condemned to death. I am told that this will be done upon the petition of the queen of Scotland, it having been negotiated by the councillors here, who held out hopes to her that it might lead to her relief and possible liberation. I have written to her upon the subject, and when I get a reply will communicate it to your Majesty, as, in conformity with your orders, I continue to keep up a correspondence with her, and am trying to gain over through her the King and his friends to look favourably upon your Majesty's interests.
I also learn that the earl of Angus, and other of Morton's friends who had fled from Scotland, went to ask for the aid of Sir John Forster, governor of Carlisle, on the frontier, who told them that, as this Queen was at peace with Scotland, he could not receive them, but sent them word secretly that they were to remain in the houses of certain gentlemen who are chiefs of parties. This was done by order of the Queen to see whether men would flock to them for the purpose of making an armed entrance into Scotland whilst she helped them underhand, and thus to cause civil war in the country. She has still hopes of this, especially if Morton be saved, and she is pressing this point warmly.
The king of Scotland has ordered the arrest of a very confidential servant of his who belonged to his chamber, called Roger Austin, who had been sent to the King formerly by his grandmother, the countess of Lennox. The reason of the arrest was that certain letters were intercepted from him to Lord Hunsdon at Berwick, which letters, although they were not signed, were declared to be his by the messenger who bore them.
Movements in Scotland were considered both here and in France to be of the highest importance, having regard to the suddenness of Morton's arrest, and to the haughtiness with which the King replied to the messages upon the subject sent to him by this Queen ; and also to the spirit with which the Scots flocked to the Border as soon as this Queen began to collect forces on her side. When, however, the slowness of the proceedings against Morton was seen, and no change was made in religion, it was recognised that the events were not prompted by a design to bring the country to submission to the Catholic church, so much as by private rancour and d'Aubigny's wish to consolidate his party by getting rid of Morton. This view is supported by the fact that d'Aubigny is accused, both here and in France, of having pandered to the heretics in going to their preachings and in other ways, which on no account should he have done being a Catholic. This shows the power which the heretics possess there, and the small trust which can be placed in Scotsmen, who moreover are people of notoriously weak faith. There are indications that the belief that the seizure of Morton by d'Aubigny was at the instigation of the French is incorrect, as this Queen is so intimate now with the French, and withdrew her troops from the Border so unhesitatingly, saying that Spanish money was the origin of the Scotch troubles.
These considerations are supported by the absence of any indication that the principal Catholics here have any secret communications with those of Scotland, as well as but little connection with the Queen (of Scotland). It is certain that if they be not united with regard to her release and the conversion of Scotland, the Scots will not break with this Queen unless they are supported by foreign troops, who will not be admitted by the heretics, unless indeed a large number of the Catholics declare themselves. This is my interpretation of the position. I think that the movements were most important at the beginning, and would have so proved if they had been continued with the same firmness as at first. I try by all means to forward them secretly through the queen of Scotland and some of her English Catholic adherents, but I have not ventured to open direct negotiations with the Scots without Orders from your Majesty. (fn. 7) —London, 2nd June 1581.
98. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
As soon as the wind served two or three of the ships sailed which I said were ready to go to Terceira, and now four more are ready to follow them, the largest being of 300 tons burthen and the smallest 100 ; as well as seven little vessels being fitted out by Drake. I understand that five hundred corselets have been brought from Antwerp, many of them proof, a thousand harquebuesses and muskets, a thousand morrions, and 27 proof roundels. I do not know whether the ships are taking more provisions than are necessary for the voyage to Terceira. News has arrived from there that French pirate ships had already begun to collect, and particularly two which had been captured by Frenchmen from English merchants, one being called "The Jonas," a very swift ship, which had chased a ship from St. Michaels as she was coming to England with woad.
Juan Rodriguez de Souza has returned from France. Before he arrived in London he stayed a week in Canterbury, on the pretext that he was awaiting Count Vimioso, but seeing that the latter tarried so long, Souza came on to London. The earl of Leicester is caressing him as usual, inviting him now publicly to his house, which he did not do before. They tell me that there are signs that he brings much money, and he affirms that Don Antonio is alive and safe in a secure place. He is seeking a large house wherein to move, in order that he may lodge Vimioso when he comes. London 2nd June 1851.
99. Bernardino de Mendoza, to the King.
I wrote to Don Juan de Idiaquez on the 24th ultimo for your Majesty's information that these councillors had decided that it would be unadvisable for this Queen to give me audience whilst the French envoys were here, which caused me not to ask for an interview, but to temporise in various ways with them, pretending at first to be ill, and saying that, until the Queen were released from the entertainment of so great an embassy, I would not trouble her. This was said as if the avoidance of an audience was at my instance. I have been approached by hints as to whether I would have a secret conference with Leicester, the only object of this being to raise him in the eyes of the French, and to learn from me what instructions I had from your Majesty with regard to speaking with the Queen. As I was,of opinion that your Majesty's interests would be best served by my avoiding such a conference, I replied that it would injure him seriously if the French were to learn that he had secret interviews with me, besides which he would waste these fine presents and entertainments which he had given to them and would forfeit the good opinion they had formed of him. I thus left it to be inferred that I avoided seeing him in his own interest, and I took care that his approaches to me reached the ears of the French envoys secondhand. In order to find out how the land lay, I also sent to ask Lord Burleigh, who is the principal minister, whether it was true, as I had been informed, that the Queen was feasting the ambassadors so splendidly that it was believed they would delay their departure as long as possible, in order to enjoy such a welcome. I begged him to let me know if they would shortly leave, as I had business to communicate. He replied that he under stood that they would soon depart, and that the Queen would then be at liberty to receive me. In the meanwhile the other events which I have related have happened and I have thought it best to say no more about an audience. I am therefore sailing with the sheet-line in my hand to shorten or loosen sail according to the wind ; thus attaining the end desired by your Majesty and giving time to see what success attends the treaty about which I have written, which could be ill carried through if I were not here. I have news from the Hollanders (fn. 8) that they had got together the men they wanted, as well as the men on shore, and I have reported this to the prince of Parma, although I have not learnt whether the men he is to send are ready. This leads me to believe that the attempt cannot be made until the 15th, as there must be a full tide. I again assure your Majesty that my advices from the place convince me that, if these men are conveyed thither secretly, the business will be accomplished, and may be looked upon as done.—London 2nd June 1581.
5 June. 100. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I wrote on the second that there were manifest indications of the duke of Alençon's coming, in addition to his having embarked at Dieppe. He arrived at this place on the 4th instant at midday, coming up with the tide, and although a number of Frenchmen were on the watch for him at various points, doubtless by the orders of the King's envoys, he dodged all the spies and entered the house which I have already described, as being destined for his reception, where Marchaumont is staying, adjoining the Queen's garden. Shortly afterwards one of Alençon's most intimate gentlemen entered the presence chamber, as if he had just come from France with letters from Alençon to the Queen, which letters he handed to her. On his leaving the room he was recognised by a son of the controller (fn. 9) who was formerly a page to Alençon, and who told his father, who sent word to me, saying that I might with confidence write to your Majesty that he had come.
I have also news from another source, that the moment Alençon arrived Marchaumont sent to Leicester a jet ring, which was to be the signal of his arrival. Leicester and Walsingham could not believe it, and they were, according to all accounts, justified in their incredulity, for there was no reason which demanded his coming. He had no passport, the King his brother not having been consulted, and the ambassadors here were ignorant of his intention. Marchaumont has been very shy of the envoys, both in this matter and others. No man, great or small, can believe that he (Alençon) has come to be married, nor can they imagine that the Queen will marry him because he has come, and it may be suspected that her having persuaded him to come with the hopes that they two together would settle matters better than could be done with the intervention of his brother's ministers, has been the motive which brought him. No doubt this has been helped by the annoyance which Alençon publicly displays against his brother for the proclamation he has issued and the demonstration he has made against his subjects going to the relief of Cambrai. Alençon's plans may not have been looked upon as serious at first, but the meeting of the nobles which he summoned, and the suspicion that the raising of an expedition in Germany might be with a different object than the relief of Cambrai, have made the king of France more suspicious and determined that Alençon shall not collect an army. This has increased Alençon's anger, as he could not compel the King, and has driven him (Alençon) to make this visit here, as he thinks that it concerns him vitally to assent to the Queen's requests. One of his reasons may be to convince himself about the marriage, and to prove that he, for his part, had followed the Queen's advice in all things.
It is also evident that none of his designs against the Netherlands, or rebellion against his brother, could be carried through without money, which this Queen would the more readily find him if he asked for it in person, on the ground that he undertook the enterprise to please her, especially as Marchaumont will have informed him that, on the occasion of the king of France saying that, on no account, would he declare war against your Majesty, the Queen said that, if he would do so, she would help him with 500,000l. sterling. Although these words were used with an object, they would doubtless arouse hopes, in Alençon's mind that he might get something from the Queen if he asked for it himself, particularly as the Queen-mother only raised 150,000 crowns in Paris to give him.
He may also have been prompted to come by the many difficulties of repeating the attempt to relieve Cambrai, and may have adopted the device of coming to this Queen in his desperation to ask for aid as a sufficient excuse to the States, as well as exalting himself in his brother's eyes by his influence with this Queen, who publicly declares that her friendship to France is only for the sake of Alençon. It is true that these considerations would have no weight with any one but such a person as he, but I set them forth here because his Hightiness makes them important in his case.
The Controller has also informed me that he learns that they are preparing with great energy the ships to send for the succour of Terceira, and to meet the flotillas from the Indies. He says that eight fine ships, besides the small ones will go, and amongst them two belonging to the Queen. Besides which Leicester and Walsingham, who are the two principal adventurers, have almost arranged for another ship of 500 tons, a beautiful vessel, which was bombarded by two of your Majesty's galleys some months ago in the port of Cadiz, when she was escaping from an attempted embargo on the part of the Mayor. The Controller tells me that the best way for your Majesty to prevent these things and the sending of help by the Queen to the Flemish rebels will be to land 2,000 men in Ireland under cover of the Pope's name. This will be the best of all bridles to prevent the Queen from allowing a single man or ship to leave her country.
I should not be fulfilling my duty to your Majesty if I did not state here with what zeal he (Sir James Crofts) treats of this, and all other matters which concern your Majesty, advising me instantly of what happens. As he is understood to be a Catholic at heart, moreover, the Queen shows him no favour, and he therefore suffers greatly from poverty. I gave him what your Majesty ordered, but he serves so zealously that it would be well in your Majesty's interest for him to be again given a similar sum, and further hopes held out ; because, if he be not thus supported, want will drive him away from Court, and whoever represents your Majesty here will be without any assistance at all.—London, 5th June 1581.
6 June. 101. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
The Hollanders I wrote about have evidently divulged their plot to Orange, and it is a great mercy the men who were to be sent to help them were not ready on the 5th, when the spring tide was full at 6 in the morning and the attempt was to be made. They wrote twice urging me not to allow this opportunity to be lost, but their object was to murder the men when they came. On the 4th instant, at 9 at night, a secretary of the prince of Orange, four or five men of his guard, and two London constables came to the door of my house whilst I was visiting the French ambassador, and took from the hands of my servants and a woman who had the care of him, the son of the Hollander who had been left with me. The boy, who is 11 years old, was taken away by one of the constables and hidden ; the people of the neighbourhood being told that it was done by order of Walsingham and the Council, and warned to keep the Queen's peace, as they call it here. My servants began to show fight, when, fortunately, I arrived in the midst of the turmoil, and was informed that a secretary of the prince of Orange was there. I had also heard that morning that neither of the Hollanders had been in the place to be taken three days before, and that they had not raised the men they said. On being told by the constables that they were acting under order of the Council I at once prevented any further disorder. I judged that the matter had been arranged between Walsingham and Orange, in order that the boy might be got out of my hands, at the same time as the boatloads of men were to leave Gravelines, so that I should not possibly be able to send news in time to stop their departure, and in due course their arrival at the place to be attacked, (fn. 10) whilst at the same time I was deprived of power over the boy God inspired me, seeing that it was for your Majesty's service, and that the plan had been discovered ; and I therefore gave no opportunity for any disrespect to be shown to my person or household on the part of the multitude of people who were gathered, and who were as insolent as ever. Controlling myself, therefore, I said to the constable that, since he assured me that the order came from the Council and Walsingham, I required that the boy should be detained and he must be answerable to me for him, Walsingham and the Council being at once informed of the matter. The next morning I got a message from the Council, to the effect that as I had given out that I held the boy because he was the bastard son of a friend of mine, born whilst we were in Flanders together, they would arrest the constables. As I thought, however, that this was a good opportunity for me to see the Queen now that Alençon was here, I took advantage of it, and said that this was no excuse or fitting explanation of so daring an insolence. I then called angrily for my garments, and said I would at once go to the Queen and leave for Spain. They took this message to her, and she sent to say that I was not to complain until I knew what justice had been done, as she had sent to close all the ports, and had ordered every possible effort to be made to recapture the boy. She said that I was to excuse her for not receiving me at once, as she had promised audience to the French ambassadors, but that I could go and see her the next day, which is to-day, my anger having doubtless softened her to this extent. The anger itself was feigned, and I will adopt a similar course during my audience. I could not keep the Hollander's son in my house more securely than I did, and they would never have got him out of it unless they had come with the Queen's authority. I can assure your Majesty that until the departure of the Hollanders from here when they left the boy with me, they were acting straightforwardly, but, being heretics, they must have changed their purpose afterwards and must have divulged the matter to many others. Orange is such a perverse and knavish scoundrel that perhaps he planned to punish the father of the boy and the other man, although they had divulged their plot, in order to prevent such attempts for the future.—London, 6th June 1581.
15 June. 102. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
I have received your Majesty's despatch of the 8th, ordering me to report what persons from Terceira had come hither, which I have done in my letters of the 7th ultimo by special courier. Since then there has been nothing fresh in the matter, excepting the sailing of the ships with munitions, which I reported to your Majesty, the rest having been delayed, in consequence of the rumour which I had secretly spread to frighten them, that your Majesty had ordered 40 galleons to leave Seville and Lisbon, in May ; for the purpose of punishing Terceira, and to await the flotillas. I also gave out, in accordance with some information I had obtained from those who came from the island, how difficult it would be to hold the place, and the lack of shelter for ships, which made it necessary for vessels which load there to keep under sail the whole time. I replied also to those who told me that succour was to be sent thither, that when they arrived they would find forces there to bring them to account ; and all this has caused hesitation. This has been increased by reports sent by Englishmen in Spain that ships were being fitted by your Majesty's orders, to make the voyage. As I did not see the Queen, I took care that the merchants trading with Spain should represent to her the great risk which was incurred to their property in that country, as well as to the ships which they were sending for the wine harvest, seeing that Drake's plunder was still un-restored. Such was the alarm caused by this, that the principal members of the company met together, and went to tell Walsingham that they had heard that, by his aid and countenance and that of other Councillors, Drake and Bingham, who was his servant, were arming ships with the object indicated. They said that they had no other livelihood than their trade with Spain, and would not now dare to send ships thither, seeing that vessels openly left here to help the rebels and injure your Majesty's subjects. If the hope of gain moved him, Walsingham, to be interested in these adventures, they would give him ten thousand marks, of 26 reals each, to desist therefrom ; and, if not, they pointed out the injury it would cause to the country for their trade to be stopped. They were told that Drake was his friend, and Bingham his servant, but that they were acting without his consent. The merchants replied that, without the countenance of him or other Councillors, they were sure that it would not be attempted ; whereupon he replied that the matter had been decided upon for fitting reasons, and they must have patience. I again increased their alarm, and the merchants thereupon brought individual pressure to bear on some of their friends in the Council, saying that if they had to lose their property they wished to hear from the Queen's own lips, whether it was necessary in her interests. This has somewhat slackened the fury, and the ships are not to leave until the end of August, so that Terceira will be unprotected, and we have thus gained time, for your Majesty, to reduce it with greater ease, and for me to see the Queen, and take fitting steps to prevent the going of the ships altogether.—London, 15th June 1581.
103. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
On the 6th I wrote to your Majesty that Alençon was here. In addition to the assurance from the Controller that I might write this, I had other information, and saw plain indications that he had arrived, so it was impossible to disbelieve it. The English, great and small, began to murmur about his coming, saying that if he came to marry the Queen, it was fitting that he should come as the brother of a king ought to do, and with proper means ; whereas, if he did not come to marry, they did not want poor Frenchmen in this country. All this is said so boldly, that probably the Queen may have feared that some disturbance would result ; these fears being promoted by Leicester and Walsingham and their friends. It may well be imagined that this would cause the Queen to change her course. She gave many fine promises to Alençon and begged him to return at once, saying that when he came back here publicly she would marry him. It appears he did as she desired without having been seen by any of the Frenchmen, and I am assured that he only stayed here two nights. This has given the French an opportunity for saying that he has not been here. They announced their departure at this time publicly, saying that they might meet the Duke of Alençon and return hither with him. Their departure, however, was deferred from day to day, and on the 12th, after they had shipped their belongings and taken leave, they sent to ask for another audience, which delayed them until the 14th, when they departed without any other decision, excepting that they and the English Commissioners have signed the capitulation about which I have already written, to the effect that when the Queen and Alençon marry these conditions shall be adopted, the Queen reserving three or four points by letter to Alençon. These are, as to whether he may exercise his Catholic religion here, the question of his being crowned, the alimony he is to receive if the Queen dies, and the liberation of the Queen of Scotland. The Queen says that these points they will settle between them, without the intervention,of anyone else, a period of six weeks being given for this purpose, during which it is to be decided whether Alençon is to come and be married or not. This seems quite incredible, and to be only a device to preserve the dignity of Alençon, after so solemn an embassy. The negotiations are thus left open and Marchaumont still remains here to keep up appearances, on the pretence that he is awaiting the expiry of the six weeks.
The Frenchmen assured the Queen in their last audience, that if the marriage took place, she should receive from the King of France whatever she desired. She is urging Alençon greatly to succour Cambrai. I cannot hear that any alliance was concluded, or that they or Alençon raised a loan, although both sides opened the door to some such arrangements, and hopes were held out concerning them. It may be judged from what has passed, that this communication may lead to ill blood rather than friendship between them, because Sussex, and those who promoted the marriage, have assured the French that Leicester and his friends have been the cause of its failure ; whilst he, Leicester, tells them that he has never seen any desire on the Queen's part to marry Alençon, and that those who professed that she wished it had no other object but to drive the French into enmity with this country. I am assured also by confidants of the French, that they are in reality much offended at the Queen having enticed them here on the assurance of the marriage ; whereas they are going back with empty words, and she has made use of their coming to magnify her own importance and diminish that of France, saying that they wished to make an alliance with her and nothing else. They resent this, and with reason, as people judge that the French power must indeed be decayed, if they are obliged to send so great an embassy for this purpose alone. I have made use of this, and have extended the rumour, without showing my hand.
The English have also become suspicious at the execution of Morton, whilst the ambassadors were here, inasmuch as the King of Scotland had only a few days before written the Queen a letter full of endearment, promising that he would do nothing except to her liking. All this was merely artifice, in order to make sure of her. She thought that, owing to the steps that had been taken by her ministers towards the queen of Scotland, even if the King, for appearance sake, condemned Morton, he would not take his life, in order to avoid offending her. As she now sees the contrary, and that Morton was executed with so much boldness, she has been greatly inflamed, and her suspicions aroused that the whole thing has been managed by the French, by means of d'Aubigny. She instantly sent orders to the Scotch Borders that the garrisons should be doubled and held in readiness until further orders, the wages of the new draft, however, not commencing until such orders arrived.
Morton was sentenced in the presence of a squadron of eight hundred men as a guard, for having been the principal actor in the death of the late King, which, having been proved, the King, his son, did not wish Morton's other heinous crimes to be investigated. From this it is seen that his only object was to establish the innocence of his mother, of the groundless accusations brought by Morton and the English heretics against her. I am expecting a man of mine to bring me full particulars, which I will at once send to your Majesty. Thank God it has turned out much better than was expected, seeing the slowness with which the king of Scotland proceeded ; but it is now clear that this was only sagacity and artifice, the better to accomplish his design. This, too, is a great beginning, from which we may hope for the submission of the country, that God should have decreed that this pernicious heretic should be removed with so exemplary a punishment.—London, l5th June 1581.
104. Bernardino de Mendoza to the King.
As I wrote in my last, the Queen had appointed an audience for me on the following day, I having requested it on the occasion of the boy having been taken from my house by the constables, which I resented as a disgraceful insult. On the day appointed she informed me that the French ambassadors had received a courier which necessitated her receiving them that day, but said that if I would come on the following day she would be glad to see me. The hour fixed was two in the afternoon, but when that hour arrived, she sent to request me to wait until three, when she would send and summon me. I thought that all this ceremony was in consequence of the French ambassadors being here.
The secretary who had brought the messages came as arranged, and said that the Queen did not wish to put any slight or jealousy upon the French as they had been so long here, and she requested me as a Queen, and a lady, to be good enough to defer my coming until they had left, when I should be very welcome. I had heard from various sources that when, after receiving your Majesty's dispatch, I had signified that I would not trouble her by requesting audience whilst she was so busy with the French, Leicester and other ministers had urged her to refuse it if I asked for it, saying that this would be a good opportunity for getting rid of me, and that the French would be annoyed if she received me. She was persuaded to this view, against the opinion of Cecil, who told her that on no account was it advisable that your Majesty should be so openly flouted, and as I now saw that your Majesty's dignity had to be considered, she having appointed three audiences for me, and when I was ready to go, suddenly stopping me, and as I also knew how timid and pusillanimous the Queen is by nature, I replied with spirit that I was astonished that a minister of your Majesty should be treated in such a way. I said the French could have no reason for complaint at her receiving your Majesty's ministers, since peace and harmony existed between her and your Majesty. There was no cause, moreover, from jealousy, since my reason for seeing her was unconnected with the marriage, and was only respecting the recent events which had happened to me. She knew that I had delayed other affairs until she had settled her business with the French, avoiding asking her for audience until they were gone, but the present treatment was apparently prompted by a desire that I should go back to Spain, since she gave me no opportunity of communicating with her on matters concerning your Majesty's interests, and this being so she might send me my passports and I would comply with that wish.
The reply she sent to this was, that sovereigns did not often make such earnest requests of ministers as she had done to Don Bernardino de Mendoza, and she was astonished that I, being a Spaniard and a Mendoza, who had assured her many times of my wish to serve her, should have refused the petition she sent to me as a lady. She would, however, be very sorry that I should leave her country in anger. My reply to this was, that I should never dare to show my face again before ladies in Spain, if I refused to comply with such a request as hers, who, besides being a Queen was such a great lady ; and not only would I oblige her by delaying my visit until the French were gone, but four days afterward, during which time I could satisfy myself as to whether she really wished to receive me or not. I could assure her that this was not by any means the smallest service I had rendered her. She thanked me greatly, and said that as soon as the Frenchmen were gone, which would be within two days, I should be very welcome, and I should have no cause to complain after the audience. I have therefore delayed matters, as your Majesty directs, having insured an audience, although I doubt not that Leicester and the others would have prevented it if they could, as they did in fact, as long as possible, the object being to keep me in suspense until the end of the six weeks, in order that I might not stop their tricks and dodges by verbally pointing out to the Queen the many evils which might result to her from them, without any corresponding advantage. The knowledge that I was ready to leave the country, greatly influenced her, as she did not wish to break with your Majesty. To cope with the evil minds of her ministers, with all their falseness and fickleness much greater prudence and understanding than I possess are needful, but all the dexterity and artifice, that I can employ shall be used to conduct affairs fittingly, and although I consign these affairs into the hands of God, as being especially for His service, my own sinfulness makes me fear that they may fail to turn out so successful as we all desire.—London, 15th June 1581.


  • 1. The letters from Pinart giving an account of these negotiations are in the Bibliotheque Nationale Fonds-Francais 3,308.
  • 2. This was an order from the King to the provincial authorities to disperse by force of arms all the levies being raised in France for the service of his brother in Flanders.
  • 3. A letter from Catharine de Medici to Ferrier, the French ambassador in Venice (Bibliotheque Nationale, Colbert, 368), gives an interesting account of her fruitless efforts to dissuade her son from again entering the Netherlands. She expresses the deepest grief at his determination, "seeing him on the brink of ruin both of person and reputation."
  • 4. In the King's hand : "It will be well to consider whether he should arrange it, although it would be better to do it here."
  • 5. The Earl of Murray. The National Covenant had, in fact, been signed in 1580, Dr. Robertson confuses it with the Bond of 1588.
  • 6. The person referred to is doubtless Captain James Stewart, of Ochiltree, who had obtained for himself the title and lands of his lunatic ward. The anecdote here related of him is quite in keeping with the character for coarse insolence given to him by his contemporary, Sir James Melville and others.
  • 7. In the King's hand, "Note.—Consider what had better be done in this."
  • 8. The Hollander with whom he had arranged for the betrayal of the port (Flushing) on the isle of Walcheren. As will be seen in subsequent letters, the affair was a trap into which Mendoza was led.
  • 9. Sir James Crofts, a member of the Queen's council in the pay of Spain, and controller of the household.
  • 10. The men who were to start from Gravelines to co-operate with the pretended betrayers of Flushing fell into the snare and were sacrificed.